United States calls B.C. wine sale regulations in grocery stores unfair

United States calls B.C. wine sale regulations in grocery stores unfair

File photo.

File photo.

The United States is targetting B.C. wine sales for what it calls unfair regulations in B.C. grocery stores.

At issue is the U.S. trade ambassador’s claim that American and other imported wines are discriminated in provincial rules allowing only B.C. wines to be sold on grocery store shelves in the province.

The Trump administration is asking the World Trade Organization to establish a dispute settlement panel on the matter.

The regulations were brought in by the former Christy Clark government in 2015.

In a release, Robert Lighthizer said “discriminatory” regulations are unacceptable and that “all Canadian provinces, including B.C., must play by the rules.

Lighthizer said the Trump administration will continue to hold its trading partners accountable by enforcing U.S. rights in trade agreements.

The U.S. says the regulations have adversely affected U.S. wine producers.

When asked about the move Friday, Premier John Horgan said it’s an addition to the list of trade disputes between the U.S. and Canada.

“My view is the Trump administration seems to be lashing out in every direction on every issue, whether it’s softwood, whether it’s pulp and paper. Now it’s wine. It was aluminum, steel, autos. There doesn’t seem to be a sector where Mr. Trump doesn’t feel that he’s aggrieved,” Horgan said.

Under the provincial rules, grocery stores can choose either a “wine on shelf” option, which only allows for B.C. wine to be sold.

They can also take the “store within a store” option, where imported and domestic wine can be sold in a separate wine shop inside the grocery store.

Lighthizer’s office says U.S. wine exports totalled $56 million last year to B.C., a 10 per cent share of the market.

With files from the CBC.

Andy NealAndy Neal

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